Coffee and cake

Meeks has decided to catch up with friends by posting her coffee and cake. I am missing the catch ups with friends too, usually down at the local coffee shop. So let’s chat over a morning cuppa.

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I have used the tea cup my Mum gave me for my birthday.

The cake is a German apple cake, although don’t ask me why ‘German’ (the apple is obvious!) My friend, with whom I often have coffee, recently came out of the mandatory 14 day quarantine at a hotel chain, after returning form overseas. Each day she and her husband were given two pieces of fruit each. The fruit mounted up. They knew that it would be thrown out if they left it, so, brought it with them when they were released into the fresh air. I received a bag of apples.

I pulled out the Nursing Mum’s Cookbook, which is one of those fabulous cookbooks with every basic recipe you could ever want. The cake is very tasty!

If you would like to have your own coffee and cake, link your post to the comments on  Meek’s page. It doesn’t have to be fancy baking, it is the chat that is important.

GERMAN APPLE CAKE

Cake

  • 125 gm butter
  • 90gm sugar
  • 1 cup plain or self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 3 cooking apples
  • 2 tablespoons sultanas
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • juice of 1 lemon

Cake: Melt butter in a large saucepan, add sugar and stir until it is beginning to dissolve. Add flour and stir well, beat in egg. Grease a 7″ cake tin and using fingers spread a little more than half the mixture over the bottom.

Filling: Peel, core and slice apples, place half of these in layers over the cake mixture. Mix together sultanas, sugar and spices and sprinkle over apple slices. Cover with rest of the apple slices. sprinkle with lemon juice. Spread resining cake mixture on top, in spoonfuls.

Cook in a moderate oven for 45 minutes.

 

In my kitchen

In my kitchen in February was produce from the garden. Of course, being home grown, there is an abundance of the same ingredient. While it is lovely to have, you do have to be inventive to come up with different ideas!

Firstly there has been corn. I am amazed at how easy it was to grow. My vegetables grow in the front yard and I planted the corn by the side fence. It must have been the perfect spot ~ that and the Fella, who loves to make sure the area is well watered. (We call him the Undergardener, but lately he has been the one keeping everything going!)

Of course, when you have super fresh corn you only have to boil it for a few minutes, add butter and a sprinkling of salt and enjoy. A favourite of children as well!

 

I have made chicken and corn soup, which would have been better with proper stock, and corn fritters. These worked well. I cut the corn off the cob, added some finely chopped capsicum and chopped roquette, which is also growing well in the garden. Then I mixed in flour and an egg to bind, and fried lightly.

 

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I am going to try a herbed corn soup tonight with the last few cobs.

After they have been pulled out the corn plants go on giving. They make great compost and I have used a couple of the stalks to stake the begonia. Gotta love a plant that gives so much!

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There is an abundance of beans, super tasty when young and fresh and a treat as I picked them. Now they are becoming more fibrous. So I have been shelling them like peas, instead of cooking the pods. I have been tossing them into lots of things. I am thinking of making a dip. Any thoughts on how I would go about it?

Some of the pods are drying on the plants and I am collecting those seeds for dried beans in soups and stews.

There are eggplants too. One bush is rich, glossy and purple and the other is a heirloom variety that produces sensational stripy fruit.

Eggplant = ratatouille, of course. It’s a great dish, because it includes so many of the vegetables currently in season. I cooked up the eggplant, onion, garlic, a potato, capsicum, beans (of course!) with a tin of tomatoes and extra tomato paste. It was delicious just with a piece of toast.

Then I used the mixture the next night mixed with some cooked mince meat, added to a halved eggplant and roasted in the oven for a while. I do love these sorts of dishes, where I can just throw in a bit of this and an extra bit of that; no precision required!

Yesterday a little pot of sunshine was given to me. EllaDee, Kate and I (and the G.O. too. of course!) met up at the Botanic Gardens. We had such a lovely natter, and it was as delightful to meet these interesting, vivacious women as I hoped. EllaDee gave me a pot of honey that came from the area of NSW where she now lives. Doesn’t honey just sum up warmth and sweetness? Just like these wonderful bloggers ~ and the G.O. 🙂

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I am going to leave you with photos of the rampant beans and sweet potatoes. If the bean plants had been able to reach the sky I am sure that Jack, followed by a giant, would have come skidding down. Th plants had to be satisfied with wandering here on earth. The sweet potato is growing from remnants of last year’s crop. It will be interesting to see how many tubers, if any, are being produced. The strawberry plants have stopped producing, but are still flourishing.

A big thank you to Maureen from Orgasmic Chef. She has had a horror time lately, and yet still hosts the In My Kitchen series with such dedication. I wish her all good things over the next while.

What’s happening in your kitchen this month ~ or indeed in your garden?

In My December Kitchen

Our family Christmas was early this year. We headed over to my Mum’s and all took some offering of food. My contribution was Chinese duck, picked up from the restaurant in Footscray on the way. Such an easy and satisfying contribution!

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

The other dishes were also delicious and varied. And we had a choice of 10 different cocktails. 🙂

On Christmas Day the Fella and I went down to a beach house at Somers, where we met up with my gorgeous Mum. For lunch we cooked pancakes and ate them with smoked salmon, sour cream, rocket, asparagus and a few salads. Simple, but very tasty. No Christmas pud for dessert, instead we had Mum’s warm fruit salad. That is simply stewing fruits ~ apricots, pineapple, prunes, whatever you have, fresh or dried ~ and then eating it slightly warm with cream and meringues.

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

Oh my, the foodie presents….

Gingerbread and truffles, and rocky road chocolate straws from my nieces.

An Indian cookbook from my brother and sister-in-law. I love cookbooks that are filled with photos and stories as well as enticing recipes. I know I will be sharing lots from this with you.

There were lovely non-Christmas gifts from friends.

Chilli infused olive oil. It is rich and gives a luscious hit of chilli.

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

From the same friend was another cookbook, from the Moroccan Soup Kitchen. This is well known Melbourne restaurant that serves simple, tasty food with love and care. I used the chickpea bake as a salad on Christmas Day. Again there will be many recipes to share with you.

Another friend gave me this simple posy of herbs, tied with a velvet ribbon.

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

Other friends shared the produce from their fruit trees. I stewed the nectarines and apricots in the same way ~ honey, cinnamon, vanilla essence and five spice mix. Then into the freezer.

I am so lucky to have such bounty in my kitchen. Such simple gifts, all given and received with love and friendship. I hope you were as fortunate over the holiday time.

In My Kitchen is hosted by Maureen over at Orgasmic Chef. She has just taken over hosting it. Drop on over to see what’s happened in her kitchen as well as kitchens around the world.

In My Kitchen

In my kitchen this month are the wonderful fruits and vegetables of summer ~ the first mangoes and avocados, apricots and other stone fruit, asparagus. There is nothing like the first tastes and scents of these delights.

These lovely fresh ingredients make great salads, simple, easy.

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In my kitchen are the last of the homegrown peas, but the beans and corn seeds have sprouted in the garden. I have also harvested quite a few kilos of potatoes and thirteen garlic knobs.  The strawberries are still cropping.

In my kitchen were these little treats. Actually a friend and I ate them in her kitchen 🙂 I bought them from my nut stall at the Victoria Market. The nut stall has the most delicious lemon flavoured almonds, but I digress…. I don’t know the name of these pastries. They were very similar to baclava, without the honey syrup. Very tasty once you realised they weren’t sweet.

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In my kitchen is a new packet of dashi powder. Dashi is a Japanese stock and I use it to make teriyaki salmon. I love boxes of things that I can’t read. My brother is teaching himself Japanese and he was able to read some of the other words on the box. Unfortunately, while he could read them he didn’t know what they meant. I gave him the job of translating the recipe on the back of the box! 😉

In my kitchen is my yoghurt maker. Thank you to everyone last month who gave me suggestions to make it thicker. I haven’t been very successful YET, but I have been persistent! In the last batch I heated the milk, added some milk powder and was quite strict about the time I left it to set. It was a little thicker, but still a way to go. It will not defeat me ~ I am going to make thicker yoghurt!

In my kitchen is a new tap for the water filter. I broke the other one when I knocked it with my elbow. This stainless steel job should be impervious to accidental knocks.

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In my kitchen is a recipe from Aunty Helen. It goes like this:

Quick Crustless Quiche

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 zucchini, carrot, potato, all grated (but really, you can use whatever is lurking in the fridge ~ it is a great recipe for this)

1 onion, diced

1 cup grated cheese

Chopped parsley. Also add in thyme, chives, oregano, whatever

  1. set oven at 200 C; brush quiche pan with oil
  2. Combine all ingredients except 1/2 cup of cheese
  3. Pour into quiche pan and sprinkle cheese on top
  4. Bake 15 mins at 200 C then reduce to 160C for 20 -25 minutes until set.

Aunty Helen’s notes go on to say “I make this often ~ we have small serves and it does us 3 meals with vegetables”. She does eat like the proverbial sparrow. 🙂

This last one is almost in my kitchen…..We have watched Bob the Pigeon for a few years now. He patrols the area outside our back window and perches in the maple tree. But now he has a mate, Bobina. Sensibly they built their nest tucked under our eaves in the safety of the grapevine. I can only get glimpses but thought you might like to have a peek too. [Apologies for the terrible photo.]

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In My Kitchen is hosted each month by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. This will be the last time Celia hosts the series. After five years she is handing the baton to Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef; I am sure she will do a fabulous job. So many thanks to Celia for giving us the opportunity to get inspiration from her kitchen and others around the world. She has allowed so many connections and friendships to flourish. (BTW, you must jump over to Celia’s post and check out her chocolate chess set!)

In my kitchen, November

It has been wonderful to get back to the Vic Market this last month. There are many things to love about travelling, but it is difficult to find produce beyond the supermarkets. Then there is the issue of keeping it fresh. The fridge in the van works from three different energy sources — mains electricity, electricity from the battery and gas from the gas bottle. Each time we changed the setting we had to readjust the temperature control. Often things froze before we realised. Frozen strawberries are one thing, but frozen lettuce is not good, carrots went rather manky and cucumbers soggy.

Now the fresh produce from the Vic Market will stay in pretty good condition in the fridge. 🙂 As well I have been harvesting plump strawberries from the garden, often a decent handful at a time. That is if I can beat the snails and millipedes ~ and the little boy down the road who loves a strawberry snack!

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015

The peas have been great too. I have been quickly boiling them with beans and asparagus, cooking them just enough to keep the crunch, then adding them to salad leaves, cucumbers and tiny tomatoes.

I have been trying to eat more fish too. I go through phases of not liking fish, but can usually always enjoy salmon. This recipe makes a tasty change from baking it.

Teriyaki salmon

Teriyaki sauce

1 cup of super dashi (I buy sachets of it and use one with a cup of boiling water)

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice, made by squeezing grated ginger

1 tablespoon sake

  1. To make the sauce, add all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring quickly to the boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes
  2. Place two salmon fillets into the saucepan and cook for about 10 minutes over a low heat. (The recipe actually says to fry the salmon in a frying pan for five minutes, before adding to the sauce. I prefer to put it straight into the the sauce and cook it a little longer.)

That’s it. So easy. The recipe came from Hideo Dekura’s Japanese cooking at home. It has good instructions for sushi rice too. No photos though, sorry.

In my kitchen I also have a yoghurt maker. We eat yoghurt every morning with fruit and muesli, and I had wondered about making my own. Then this one came my way. Thanks Denise!

The jars are so cute, and each one holds enough for the Fella and I to share in the morning. However, the batches so far have been quite runny. A Google search gave me some help, so I have been trying a few things. Apparently full cream milk makes a thicker consistency than skim milk, and I have added in three dessert spoons of powdered milk. So far the starter yoghurt has been shop bought, usually Greek and definitely unflavoured. I have done this because I am not confident that my yogurt would carry enough oomph to inoculate a new batch.

It’s quite edible as it is, but I would like it to be thicker. So, any thoughts would be most welcome.

What’s been happening in your kitchen lately?

The In my kitchen series is hosted by the wonderful Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. This month she is baking salmon and brownies (not together!) and her bread is as mouth watering as usual. Do go and have a look.

In My Kitchen

It is months since I have posted an In My Kitchen update. These are hosted by the fabulous Celia on Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Jump over to take a peek in kitchens all around the world.

As months have gone by it is going to be a post about what’s been happening this Winter. It has been a cold one, with the heater going most days. So, in my kitchen this Winter has been clothes drying in the heat.

Drying towels (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
Drying towels (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

It has been too cold to work in my studio (aka The Playroom!). The little heater there just couldn’t combat the cold. So I decamped into the kitchen area, setting up a working table. More clutter in the room, but warm. 😉

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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

There were more kitcheny things happening too.

After reading of a simmer plate in EllaDee’s blog I had to get one too. My stove is old and cranky, and doesn’t like to have very gentle heat. I am hoping that this simmer plate will help to stop food sticking when I am slow cooking.

I also bought a new drinking bottle from Aldi. I left my last one on Flinders Island and have been looking for a metal one ever since. Mine is the mint green one.

 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

I have done some baking over Winter. Like these….the cake is a little one that I made for a friend who lives alone. We ate the other one! The recipe came from Kate, Tall tales from Chiconia. It uses apple sauce and hers had the most luscious looking fudge icing. I had to draw the line at that much sugar, but it was still delicious. The choc chip biscuits were soon eaten by the Fella and me!

And there was some serious food in my kitchen too! The sweet potatoes were ones that I grew. So easy to grow.

Lastly, a recipe I made up for a quick, easy and tasty one-pot-dish.

Salute some onions or leeks and garlic. Add in sliced potatoes and any other veggie that you like. You can see that I have added sweet potato, celery, including the tops and peas. I added them towards the end. Then  I mixed up a miso soup paste with hot water and added that to the mix. You will then need to adjust the amount of liquid so that the veggies can boil.

 (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

The story of an apple

I have been working full time the last two weeks. That means I take my own lunch, which I usually organise the night before. So Thursday night I put my lunch — a sandwich in a ziplock bag, some dried apricots in another bag, some rice crackers, all bagged up and an apple, the apple — on the kitchen table.

Friday morning I packed my lunch in my bag. It was only 7 o’clock and I was rather bleary eyed. I work at a holiday programme and this day we were off to Fun City, full of noise, people and activities like laser tag. I ate my sandwich at lunchtime while keeping my now wide awake eye on the kids. I hunted around my bag for the apple, but it wasn’t there. I only had a small amount of brain space to think “Funny that I didn’t pack it, as I know I got one out last night”. After that my brain was back counting children and making sure all was okay.

I looked at the table when I got home. No apple, just a few, very small pieces of dried skin. Again I didn’t think much of it, just collapsed into the comfy red chair to drink the cup of tea the Fella had made.

Fast forward a few hours. The Fella had gone to bed and I had moved from the comfy red chair to the comfy couch. I was partly reading and partly nodding off, because I am not used to 7:30 starts any more, when the wind and rain picked up. So I was in a dozy state, subconsciously listening to the noise of the wind rattling the window and the rain dripping down the down pipe, when I realised I was hearing a different noise as well.

It sounded like leaves on the side of the house. Then my dozy brain woke up a bit more and I remembered that there wasn’t a tree on that side. I was fully awake now and followed the direction of the noise to the fireplace. Our house is an old place and not only has an old mantelpiece, but also has parts that need some attention, like the 2 cm gap between the bottom of the mantelpiece and the floor. It is a gap that is big enough for a mouse, but not big enough for an apple.

I know because that was the source of the noise and solved the mystery of the disappearing apple. There was a mouse doing a mighty fine job of eating the apple so that it was small enough to take through the gap!

It must have started nibbling on the table, hence the apple skins, only to have it roll off the table. What happened next is up to your imagination. If you have a Beatrix Potter mind, you will see the little mouse rolling the apple across the floor, around the lounge room door to the side of the fireplace. The little mouse might even have been wearing a waistcoat. If you have a Death to All Rodents mind you may see a horde of them converge on the apple and whisk it across the floor, around the lounge room door and to the fireplace. They would be covered in tattoos and piercings!

Strangely, we have not seen evidence of the mouse before. Annoyingly, we have a couple of neighbourhood cats that seem to find our house an irresistible party place. What’s the point of them if they don’t keep the mice away?

So now I am off to mouse proof the pantry, to make sure that all food is safely away from little mouse teeth.

How does my garden grow?

Over Easter my garden decoration had a little help from the Easter Bunny. Miss C and Miss B came over on Sunday and it didn’t take them long to find the eggs!

Then we went inside an made hot cross bun. Well, they were more like hot buns, because we forgot the cross. They were quite tasty when they were warm, but neither the Fella nor I have wanted to eat the leftovers. The Fella (rightly) said that we could use them as door stops! I think the problem was that we had to rush to proving time. Still, the girls had fun, and that was the main object for the day.

In my kitchen

Well, the big news from my kitchen is that I have bought a mixer. That may seem rather ho-hum for most of you. However, I have never owned one before, content (sort of 😉 ) to mix and whip using forks and whisk. I received some birthday money from a very generous friend and decided to lash out. Couldn’t resist a blue one!

My new mixture
My new mixture

I made a cake, which everyone complimented, and a Breton Tart for dessert at my sister’s. No photos, I am afraid. 😦 You will have to take my word for it that they were quite tasty. And yes, I do intend to make a cake for the friend who gave me the money.

At the moment my favourite part of the machine is the big mixing bowl, with a handle! For some reason it makes me feel quite professional to pour the mixture into the pan using the bowl. Ahh, the simple things….

One of the reasons I haven’t had a mixer before was the space it would take up. So I have reorganised my pantry. The bottom shelf had become one of those areas that was filled with things that I never used, and really, I had stopped noticing. So now I have a space for my mixer AND the baking trays. They had lived in the oven, which meant that every time I used the oven I had to take them out and put them on the floor.

Have you had that experience, of realising, after many years, that there are better places to put things? That there is junk taking up the space that you could use more effectively?

Next step is to sort out the shelves where the packages and packets are kept.

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I am so impressed with my bottom shelf organisation!

My Christmas present to my Mum was to take her to see “As you like it”, a production of the Shakespeare play performed in the Botanic Gardens. We had a picnic before the performance. I included:

The lentil salad is really easy to make — lentils (I use tinned), feta cheese, cooked sweet potato and mint leaves. The dressing is mint sauce. The recipe originally came from a cook book to promote healthy bones, so great to help fight osteoporosis.

It was such a pleasant evening, despite the chill breeze blowing from the west.

Lastly, some oven roasted tomatoes. I had a good crop of Roma tomatoes this year. They weren’t very big, but quite tasty. I slow roasted some in a very low oven, covering them with oil, thyme and oregano.

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In my Kitchen is hosted by the delightful Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. If you pop over to her post you can see the month blog roll of bloggers who take part. You can visit kitchens from all over the world. And you have to read her post about her birthday celebrations. That is one amazing way to have a birthday!!

 

In my kitchen

In my kitchen there is a lot of delicious, fresh, seasonal food — avocados and mangoes, crunchy cucumbers and peppery rocket. We have fresh fruit every morning and the peaches and nectarines have been juicy and delicious. I am picking little tomatoes and green beans from the garden. And yes, more silver beet!

In my kitchen there has been a lot of baking and roasting this month. That’s because our normally hot, summery January has been chilly and grey. More oven work, less salads and BBQs.

In my kitchen I have been trying out new recipes and really enjoyed this one ~ oatmeal, spinach [or, in my case, silver beet 🙂 ] tomato and feta cheese tart. It came from the kitchen of the Lady with Red Specs and can highly recommend both her blog and the tart.

You can see that I managed to save a portion for my lunch.

In my kitchen I made a similar dish, one that I call That Eggy Pie Thing ~ so similar I almost mixed up the photos! It doesn’t have pastry. Instead the flour seems to fall towards the bottom to create a firmer base. I don’t know if that is what is meant to happen, but it does, and I like it. It’s great because you can add anything you like to it. The original recipe included chopped ham, but I don’t usually have any. Bacon would be good to.

2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 cup grated cheese

3/4 cup plain flour

1 onion (I cook the onion before I put it into the mixture)

2 bunches of asparagus (but this time I used tomatoes)

You can also add capsicums, mushrooms, or whatever you would like to experiment with.

Preheat the oven to 200 C or 180 fan forced. Grease a 6 cup ovenproof dish. Whisk together the milk, eggs, cheese and flour until well combined. Pour into prepared dish and arrange the asparagus on the top. Bake for about 35 minutes or until set. [In my crummy oven that is longer than 35 minutes 😦 ]

Can’t get much easier than that!

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015

In my kitchen were some helpers. Miss C and Miss B came over for lunch. While the Fella BBQed the chicken thighs we got the inside things ready. Miss C is 10 and did a great job of cutting up the capsicums and carrots for the salad. Meanwhile Miss B set the table, arranging everything just so. They both love vegetables and were dying to eat the little tomatoes we had picked from the garden just before.

In my kitchen were other guest who came over for dinner. Denise brought a delicious salad made with oranges and I made a roast vegetable one.

Chop up a range of vegetables. In my mix were capsicums, sweet potato, zucchini, a leek and potatoes. Put them in a bowl, add olive oil, salt and pepper and mix to coat the veggies. Roast. When they are soft and the edges beginning to brown, take them from the oven, place onto a pile of rocket and pour over a dressing of balsamic vinegar and oil.

For dessert I made Celia’s ricotta slice. I have spoken about this before, and just love it. So did everyone else!

Lastly, In my kitchen was a roasted eggplant for tonight’s dinner. Again super easy, and surprisingly quick.

I halved the glossy, firm eggplant [aubergine], scored the flesh and salted it. Leaving that to one side, I opened a tin of tomatoes [but use chopped fresh ones if you like], added finely chopped spring onions, capsicum [must win Ingredient of the Month for January!], zucchini, salt and pepper. It was way more mixture than I needed, but will be handy for other meals this week.

After washing the salt from the eggplant I fried both halves for a couple of minutes. While that was doing I thinned down some soya bean paste with hot water. This is my secret ingredient. I love the Japanese dish nasu dengaku ~ eggplant and miso paste ~ and though why not combine the miso with the tomato mixture? So I painted the cut side of the eggplant with the paste.

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015

Spooned on the tomato mixture

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015

Added cheese, of course!

Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015
Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015

Into the oven for about 20 minutes ~ could be even quicker in non-crummy ovens. And there it is. You can probably tell I am not a food stylist 😉 but boy did it taste good!

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Photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2015

 

So, what’s been happening in your kitchen this month? Head over to Celia’s blog at Fig Lime and Jam Cordial. Each month she hosts In My Kitchen, and it’s almost as popular as My Kitchen Rules!